Eau La La

Despite a nearly empty restaurant when we arrived, the waitress tried to seat us in an obscure corner, so we had to request a more centrally sited table. After browsing the petite cellar, we selected a very reasonably priced Stoneleigh sauvignon blanc and then ordered. The chorizo was tasty though very spicy, while the deep fried calamari was flawlessly cooked and not at all rubbery. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of the sautéed mussels, which had a smoky marinade but were far too chewy. Regrettably, the kitchen seemed unable to cope with our six person party, and the last main course arrived more than 20 minutes after the first. The paella valenciana was a huge disappointment. Although the rice was perfectly cooked, there was a strange aniseed flavor to the dish. We speculated there was either too much fennel, or too little dish rinse. The Mediterranean grill was overcooked: The fish was so dry it wouldn’t properly come off the skewer. Fortunately, the other dishes proved more successful. While it took two staff members to remove the lamb kebabs from their impressive skewers, it was well worth the wait. The meat was slightly pink in the middle and very juicy, and the marinade was delicious. Our request for rocket on top of the “Love” pizza was fulfilled without complaint, and the crab on the pizza was lovely. When we asked for the dessert menu, we were brought a list of prepared desserts, but further inquiry revealed homemade ones. We tucked into the tiramisu, and unfortunately found that it was a little soggy and seemed to be made of cream rather than marscapone. The baklava had a strange appearance and far too little pastry, but it still satisfied our craving for sweets. Overall, we enjoyed ourselves and found the service refreshingly pleasant and helpful without being obtrusive. While there were some hiccups (such as several of the menu items not being available) along the way, the alfresco setting and the homely ambience definitely made up for it.